Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trying Again: Another SD Doll Head

I'm an idiot.  Having just recovered from the whole Doll-Love Sleepy Alice debacle, an SD head that appeared to match in measurements, but not in scale, I'm dumb enough to try one more time.  It just kept bugging me.  If Only-Doll's MSD Ruo-Die head fit the Dragon Doll 1/4 girl body so perfectly, why not an Only-Doll SD sized head on the Dragon Doll 1/3 scale body?  This time I looked at the head circumference and proportions to shoulders a little bit more carefully.

What I've been longing for for ages is a 60cm vintage pattern cover girl doll, and most defintely, a ball joint resin doll.  Someone who would really look spot on in the styles I want to play around with.  So this time I'm trying Only-Doll's Yi Feng.

Here's my mockish Photoshop mock up so I could make up my mind.  The vintage pattern image is from a 1944 pattern catalog cover I found on Flickr. The doll head photos are from the Only-Doll company through Mint on Card. The deadline for the order to go in this time is January 14th, so it's going to be a few months before I get the head.  It can take anywhere from 1 to 5 months to get a doll made and shipped so I'm happy I've already got the body to pattern and sew for.


I've used La Doll Clay to close a doll's eyes up a bit before.  Even if it doesn't stay stuck to the resin at first, just let the pieces dry and glue it on with Elmer's White Glue.  Completely removable if you ever want to restore the doll to default.  I think with the eyelid mod and a face-up, and a pair of 14 mm eyes so the iris is smaller, I'll have my Vintage Pattern Model Girl.  I'm hoping she shows up in time for Valentines?  And that the head fits perfectly, or only requires a little neck sanding so that my Jiji can keep and wear her original head.

Or, I'll have another head for sale. I hope not.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Patterning a 'Tail' Coat from a Psuedo Victorian Era Manga story.

The demon/butler, Sebastian, in the manga/anime "Kuroshitsuji" by Yano Toboso is well known for his immaculate tail coat.  God help you if you get anything on it, butter cream frosting not withstanding.  The artist has a marvelous time drawing intricately detailed Victorian Era costumes for her characters, and then throwing in delightfully anachronistic steampunk cell phones and televisions.  And clockwork people!

I'm going with the character sheets, copy write Yano Toboso, of course:


For those not familiar with anime, this is the costume design they use as a reference template when doing the animation. It's also candy on a stick for cosplayers who make the costumes to wear in competitions and to show off.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kyou in as Natural Light as it Gets.

I got up this morning and after a whole day of sunshine it was raining again this morning, and it didn't clear up until afternoon, so he's got the light going the other way.  It would be hopeless to photo him in direct sun, he's like a reflection device he's so white. The Dream Realm white resin actually has little sparkles in it. It's more like that faux marble stuff.  I would say, Kyou is more than 3 years old at the least.  I've had him for a little over 2 years now.  He's only gone from dead white to a very, very nice ivory, judging by his other fantasy ear sets that have been stuck in packing plastic all this time.

Dream Realm Black Crow BJD



Now I just have to make him that Late Victorian Butler's outfit.  I wish they made proper 1/3 scale half dome fancy buttons and sold them to the general public. I've seen some on doll clothing, but I've never been able to find anything!  And I need them for so many outfits I have in mind!  For cosplay, I'll just add a little more black to his brows and eyes temporarily to bring out that anime look.  I'm debating cutting his hair, though.  Sebastian is "sloppy" for the time period, but maybe I can cheat with a pony tail.  I've already got the 'poppy' color eyes.  I wanted to get the demon eyes from Ersa Flora, but until now it sort of wasn't worth it.  NOW it is! ^_^  But yeah, he's got the red poppy eyes for now.


Yana Toboso's Sebastian from Kuroshitsuji


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kyou's Face Up, A - Z

After over a week of rainy weather and clearing my backlogged sewing projects off the list, I decided today is the day.  I can have the windows open, the air is dry enough to dry the paint and spray fast with out it drying too fast and I have been sorting out the layers in my mind.

Here is Kyou blank, with a wig on. I sprayed him over a week ago with Mr. Super Clear to prep him.


Click the read more link for the extremely long photo spam

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Obligatory Alice in Wonderland Cosplay

This is my 'test' from the little girl's dress and apron pattern I made for my YoSD size Sakuranbo last month. I've been doing a lot of research on vintage patterns for children's outfits from the 1930s through 1950s and the basic little girl's dress from the 1950s is fantastic for surface design. They look like little flowers.  I want to make a whole garden's worth!

Naturally since I had a blue micro-gingham, and that doll eating 'wild Alice' wig (this is the actual company name for it!), I went with Alice in Wonderland.  Alice is very popular in BJD-land right now.  I think it's because the story goes so well side by side with the whole Steampunk thing, though I think it's a stretch to say the connection is because the White Rabbit has A Watch.  The White Knight from Through The Looking Glass is very Steampunk, with all his clever inventions, but most people seem focused on the Rabbit, because he's the one with the watch.

I think the most difficult part of the whole outfit were the socks.  I went on a sock making binge this weekend, and these are the smallest ones I've ever made.  I had to sew the lace cuffs on with the socks stretched over my fingertip.  Then I realized when I put them on Sakuranbo, they were practically knee socks! However, bunching them down, with the crinkles hidden under the lace cuff, works out okay.  I'm so used to working with the big dolls.  For the rest of this month, I'm going to do my best to catch up with all the stuff cut out for my big guys, but at least now everyone has socks.  

Doll Love Linna BJD
Sakuranbo is a Doll-Love YoSD 'Linna'




And yes, those sleeves do go right over the doll's hands, the circumference of spread hand and arm's widest around part is the same measurement.  The apron has snaps in back for the shoulder straps.  The dress closes with snaps and there are a pair of blue and white gingham bloomers under there.  

I put more cosplay pictures up on the Deviant Art portfolio. ^_^ 













Sunday, November 18, 2012

Commissions Information

Welcome! 

I'm a professional seamstress and tailor, and have worked in theatrical costuming and run my own sewing business for humans for years. I've been working with ball joint dolls since 2010. You can check the side bar to see what dolls I own. I have one cat, and am very careful to clean and package anything I make so that no animal hair, dander, or household odors are on items. I live in Southern California in the USA, and will ship world wide to countries that PayPal and the U.S. Postal system will deal with. I have no problem with walking to the post office, or UPS store, they are right up the street. You can reach me via email at:
 sewingboxdesigns2011@gmail.com

Important: If you are looking for someone to supply product for Your Esty or Ebay shop or website, look elsewhere.  I am not a manufacturing/sweatshop service.  

Commissions:

I'm currently accepting commissions for clothing to your design request. My interests are Manga/Anime, Historical, Retro, Steampunk and casual, as well as office wear.

Right now my turn around time for most clothing is 2-6 weeks.  Embroidered or heavily decorated costumes take as long as the amount of elaborate design needs.  I always try to over estimate the time needed.  I require a non-refundable half labor cost deposit to start work on the order.

You do not have to send me your doll, I actually prefer not to accept responsibility for other people's expensive and beloved dolls.  I work from measurements and if it's a really tricky body type, paper and tape casts that are easy to make and mail.  See this post for the measurement chart.

When the order is in progress, money tendered on the deposit, I will post an updating report post for their project.  Progress is photographed and reported every few days, so that customers can see their outfit and question or correct anything.

Pricing:

Varies depending on what you want made.  I will list the cost of everything so you can chose how you spend your own money.  I may have to get back to you after a day or three of research. If you wish to purchase the fabric and ship it to me, you will be charged only for labor, but I still require the deposit.  If you want me to shop for you, I will have to figure out how much fabric and the cost is needed and get back to you, and then the remaining labor charge is to be paid when your garments are done. Any overage for fabric will be applied to the balance of your labor.

Please note, the price I quote is per job, not per hour.  If I finish sooner or later than the estimated time, the price remains the same.

For shipping via USPS, I can give only a rough estimate based on online pricing charts, but without knowing how heavy the fabric for an item is, that's something that has to be discussed and adjusted for.

I will quote you a price based on your drawing, sketch, concept after we have got it very clear what you would like, design, fabrics, etc. It's nice if you have a front, back and side view, either photo or rough sketch of what you have in mind. I'm used to working with very rough sketches from customers, so don't be shy. Be prepared to take measurements of your doll with a thin, cm (not inches) tape measure. Here is the measurement form.

Patterns and Quality:

I make all my own patterns, but if you wish to have something made from a purchased pattern, I will trace it off and your pattern will be returned to you uncut. My goal is to make every item as if it were for a human being to wear, as closely as possible allowing for the differences between doll and human figure and movement. I aim for proper proportion, pose-ability, with couture techniques, and the clothing I make is meant to last. Everything I make is designed to be put on the doll with out removing hands or heads, as closely as possible to the desired design. However it does depend on what fabric the customer wishes to use.  Stiff polyesters and such do affect the look of an outfit.

Portfolio:

Most of my recent work is on my Deviant Art site, and I'm constantly working on new patterns for items for all sizes of dolls.

Fabrics:

For the most part, I prefer to work with natural fibers, and real Rayon, and blends there of, like Cotton/Linen, Cotton/Rayon, etc.  Lycra at 8% or less is okay, as long as the main fabric is natural.  Double Knit Polyester does not lend itself well to doll size items.  Some of the more sheer polyester stuff with gold or sliver fibers or prints, as long as they are very thin, are okay.  Remember thin to you is thick on a doll. A lot of microfibers and suede cloth behave very much like natural fabric, so those are reasonable.

I can sew the thinner fake leathers, PVC and vinyl, but not the heavy stuff.

Check this post for info on choosing fabrics. 

I don't work with leather or hides from animals on a large scale.  Small things like strips of fur trim and hand sewing, but not machine sewn leather garments, my machine isn't made for them.

Nor can I mold plastic, resins, or metals, and will turn down offers I honestly feel I can't do justice to. 

I prefer not to use Velcro unless the customer specifically wants it or needs it for accessibility reasons. I have a small stock of thin Volks brand velcro, it's sheer and only a bit stiff, but nice for people who have trouble working their hands to dress a doll.  

Payment Via Paypal only.

I usually give the customer a week after the quoted time, even if I finish earlier than that.  For instance if I say, it will be done in 2 weeks and it's done in 1, you still have 3 weeks to pay.

Be aware that unpaid for items will end up on Etsy, just like clothes that get left at the dry cleaners' get sold every 3 months.   

Etsy: If you wish to commission an item through Etsy, the Etsy method will be followed.  Your item will be listed as described and made as a Custom Order in my Etsy shop.  I also offer the option to have items in my shop made to order.  If you want something there with a different fabric or color, or small changes in design, like a sleeve or a hem, please feel free to contact me. 

Refunds:

Refunds will be based on possibilities that are outside my control, such as natural disaster damage to your goods, or severe illness that precludes my ability to do the work (which thankfully, is not very often!). Otherwise, you will get what you ask for and agree on, that is my guarantee. This is why it's important to measure carefully and keep track of your commission's updating report.

Using Paypal is your legal security as well as mine. Your original designs and all images you send me are yours and will be deleted from my files (unless you have given me permission to post a commission report for your project). I will not use patterns made from your original designs to make items for my ready to wear shop. Designs based on popular media images such as comics, manga, anime, etc. in 'cosplay' situations are up for grabs. If I make you a sailor moon costume, that does not preclude my ever making another one in the exact same style and fabric for someone else.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kyou is Getting a New Face

Kyou, my Dream Realm Black Crow I got to cosplay Sebastian, was advertised with photos like this:

Dream Realm Black Crow BJD



Friday, November 9, 2012

Trick Knees: BJDs and Pant Leg Length

I was reading the news on BJD Collectasy today and as usual washed up someplace interesting while surfing.

I've mentioned before about finding that I had to add length to pants because of the way ball joint dolls' knees work. Elbows are not so obvious, but I have another trick for longer sleeves.

LoongSoul Dolls had a post on someone ripping off their technology; specifically, how their knees are made.  The photos make it very clear how their knees are made.  They are also very good explanation why a doll's bent knee can add up to or in this case, over an inch to a leg's length in a pair of slacks.

Photo from LoongSoul Dolls:


As you can see, when the knees are bent, it's not just a case of, well, bending a knee. It's extending the joint that makes the knee bend.  (How many parts are in there? O_o ) Which is why I add length to my doll's pants patterns that sometimes results in dragging hems if I don't remember to fold them up and under when photographing them.  However, my guys look really good when sitting casually cross legged.  No vast expanses of sock a la high rider.    

Now for the sleeve trick.  When you dress a doll, getting the long sleeve through a jacket is a pain in the butt.  But--if the sleeves are a bit longer, you can just take a tiny safety pin, pin the unbuttoned (or un-snapped) cuff so that it hooks over the doll's thumb and slide the jacket on, then remove the pin.  If you buy ready made shirts that have not so long sleeves, just leave the front of the shirt unbuttoned until you get the jacket on, so that the sleeve is loose enough not to break off your doll's thumb!  I like to put ties on my guys, so the longer sleeve is to fix it so I can dress them properly without a lot of hassle trying to get a tie on when they already have a jacket on.  

Think of dressing a BJD as being like dressing an un-co-operative toddler who's gone completely limp post tantrum. The easier you can make it on yourself, the better. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

The Trouble with Doll Body Sizes

Fact: Dolls come in as many sizes as people.  You can get a doll with an A, B, C, D, DD or OMG size bust with rest of the body all in the same size. The boys come in wide ranges as well; so what fits one "Uncle" does not fit another "Uncle".  (70 cm and up)  And what fits a Slim Uncle does not fit a Slim EID by any means.  When I started looking at dolls, the first thing I learned was how important it is to know your doll's size, and what companies provided clothing and shoes in that size.  I have a Slim Uncle who's feet are TINY, he can share shoes with my 60 cm boy.  My Dragon Doll Uncles (also considered 'Slim) are so big, you can't zip up the back of boots past their ankles. It's something you learn to deal with, just like when you shop for your own clothing.

My SD or 1/3 girl, a 60 cm tall Dragon Doll Gen 1 body, large bust, has got a 15 cm waist. It doesn't show so much from the front how tiny her waist is.  She's sway backed, which means when you look at her sideways, there is a noticeable dip/curve in her lower back.  In people, this is a fitting issue, because the waist back is significantly smaller then what is considered average.  Clothing will fit perfect every where but in the back waist, where it will gap or sag away from the waist, because there is such a dip there.  Usually there is some tricky bias work or serious darting in the back hip to waist region going on there to correct a sagging amount of fabric.  It also makes my doll quite beautifully balanced, so I'm not seeing it as any type of flaw at all.  (Sherry at Pattern ~ Scissors ~ Cloth has a really good explanation for what and how to do about the sway back figure.)

The only Dragon Doll company photo of her discontinued body type from the side is very small and blurry, so I drew a line where the back is curved. The later generations are not so curved in the lower back.



My slight problem as a clothing designer?  Most SD girls on the market now have about an 18 or 19 cm waist.  So when I design and pattern for SD girls, I try to cover the 15 to 19 cm range in the waist, as well as the popular bust range.  Everything else is usually the same, except for specific doll makers, who make a point of having their dolls a different proportion.  The shirtdress pattern I made in September this year, with the wrap and tie belt, works fine for most SD girls.  However, when I want to do something in the more fitted range, I cut up some of those little square make up remover cotton pads, and pad up my doll with some masking tape and fill in that dip.  When I'm designing a pattern,  if I can, I'll work in some elastic or adjustment straps in the details that look like fashion trim, so the outfit will fit more dolls.

However, I do want to do more fitted clothing, like the vintage inspired wiggle dress, or the steampunk corset.  The restrictions on the "ready to wear" items in my Etsy shop being that the corset will have to be underbust style, and the tight dress may have to incorporate something in the line of an adjusting waist cincher or hidden elastic.  

I'm also still working on casual wear to mix and match; but casual is not so casual when you think about it.  Jeans for instance.  Yeah, they fit tight.  Unless you have the doll in hand, or a pattern made specifically for the doll, you're going to go nuts.  And even then, can the doll sit, or pose, in the jeans?  Hard to tell, but I've seen a lot of standing up doll photos.  I also found out with my first pair for my big guy, that I have to add an inch in extra length to make up for double jointed knee extensions.  They have to be a little loose.  And a beefcake doll like the EID Super Hero is going to have butt issues, if some lee way isn't worked into the seat/crotch area.  Stretch fabric will get caught in joints, or emphasize how strange a double jointed knee can look.  So skin tight jeans are not exactly an option unless your boy girl is going to spend a lot of time standing around looking painfully fashionable. I like to leave some room for the doll to move, but then I spoil my 'kids' rotten anyway.

When you buy clothing (or patterns for that matter!)  for your doll, make sure you know the measurements. If there is a question, email the seller and ask them for the garment's finished measurements.  A good dealer will find out for you.  Measure your doll with a thin, 'cm' tape measure instead of inches.  It's easier to get close measurements in tight curves that way.  I buy a normal tape measure, and cut it in half down the middle for the cm side, and only as long as my doll, so  that I have one in proportion to work with.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Dresses in the Etsy Shop.

Now that I have managed to sort out my working schedule, and my photo taking routine, and I'm done with wig making, I'm going to be getting more sewing done.

2 new SD dresses and 2 new MSD dresses are up in the shop.  I have a nice rainbow collection of fabrics that will be turned into one of a kind dresses in this style with variations in collars and cuffs and trims, with matching or contrasting wrap belts over the coming weeks.

These shirt dresses look very cute, and will fit a wide variety of bust and waist as well as hip sizes on MSD and SD girls.  They are easy to dress and undress the girls with, no removal of head or hands. Just slip them on over the doll's head and wrap the belt on and tie it.  They look good when the doll is seated as well as standing, and are nice, casual dresses that will also decorate any room your girl is in.

I came up with this design because I wanted to be able to change my girls' outfits more often and easily, and I hope others will enjoy the same convenience.  The wrap belt can be replaced with a corset, waist cincher, or belt of your own choice, or worn over a frilly petticoat for a very retro 1950's look.






Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making a Mohair Doll Wig: Putting it Together

This is part two, part one, is here.

You'll need the mohair wefts you've made, and a doll wig cap that you've either made or purchased that fits your doll, and a wig stand of some sort, a good thread to match the hair as closely as possible, a milliner's needle, and some long pins, with ball heads.  I used quilting pins.  (Note: I am assuming you know how to sew, or you wouldn't be trying this.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Amazing Pets! Felted Animals Custom Made by GourmetFelted

I just found out that Gerry from Dreamfiber also does needle felting sculptures.  I'm thinking perfect pets for ball joint dolls!  Her attention to detail is so amazing!

GourmetFelted is her other shop.  Photo credit and link to Gerry.  I'm just stunned by the work she does.  This is amazing work.  If you can't clone your pet, you can have Gerry make a 3D portrait in miniature.  Doesn't he look like he's going to give one of those happy little barks any moment?


Making a Mohair Doll Wig: Wefting the Hair

First of all, I'm sharing my progress on this project here for the members of World Wide Doll House, a BJD forum open to all members. 

World Wide Doll House is more like an online doll meet up than a BJD specific forum, where members can discus lots of other things, the same as you would at a regular doll meet. We're also working on promoting a "World Wide Doll Month" for September, where you sign up to do something you'd been planning on doing for ages and just haven't done (like writing a book on NaNoWriMo, only with doll related projects.) There is a small, but growing market place there, as well. Check it out! ^_^  It's especially good for European region resources. (It's also moderated for spam posts so knock it off, jerks!) 

Now, I butchered a modacrylic wig trying to style it for one of my dolls, and unable to find the perfect wig for him, I decided to try something I'd been wanting to do for some time. Make a wig. I'd looked on Youtube for tutorials under the BJD key word and nothing I found, at the time, was quite what I wanted.  But in the side bar, there were links to human wig making.  After studying quite a lot of them, I put the links to the ones I found most useful here.

After locating a source of gorgeous natural mohair at Dreamfiber, I bought some and started trying everything until I came up with the method here.  Gerry at Dreamfiber must have the patience of a goddess, because without her preparations, I don't think I would have been able to do any of this.  

Now for the Tutorial! ^_^ 


Monday, October 1, 2012

Tailoring and Patterning

I have been tailoring since I started sewing.  I have a stack of trusty books with everything anyone could possibly need to know in them. Some of them can be found in local dead tree repositories (libraries).



While a lot of it translates just as easily to making BJD clothing, not all of it does completely.  You can't, for example, put all the layers of hand stitched padding that make the perfect shape in a man's bespoke suit in a doll's suit.  It would add a lot of unnecessary bulk.  Cheat and use a good knit iron on interfacing instead. 



For instance, welt pockets.  With the larger dolls, yes.  With anything under 60cm, I'm inclined to just use the mock pocket and call it done.  I've noticed a lot of the 60 cm boy dolls have huge hands compared to the proportions their pockets would be on their garments.  A patch pocket or flap for style, but if it were in proportion with the hand, rather than the garment, it would have to be huge. 



 It's safest to use only the thinnest tropical weight suiting and very thin lining can be used for dolls.  Sometimes that means the fabric frays as fast as you work with it, so you have to take extra time to go around every piece with Fray Check and be extra careful about using good tight stitches.  

It takes a lot of patience to properly sew any garment to couture standards and only about 50% more to tailor a suit for a girl or boy doll.  It's much easier than tailoring for a human.  The trick is assembling garments for dolls follows a slightly different path than for humans.  Small sleeves are tricky to turn right side out and getting linings to hang right without bagging the fashion fabric is difficult without a LOT of pins and some unfortunate swearing.  (It helps, really.)  And most good tailoring books assume you don't need an actual pattern, because if you're reading the book, you know how to measure and draft a suit pattern by simply doing it.  There really are only a few main changes in men's suit styles. All the fashion of the past century is just a matter of details and fit.  

ball joint doll custom sewing 2


Suits go from loose to tight, depending on the season and whim of designers, but the basic pattern is pretty much engraved in stone. The Jacket: a front, a back, sleeves and a collar. The Slacks: Back and front. The Vest: back and front.  Everything else is just where you put, or don't put pockets, double breasted is just a bit more overlap and western is just a shape of a front pocket or yoke, a tail coat is just a jacket with its front cut short and its back lengthened.    

ball joint doll custom sewing


 Once you've made a few suits, it's just like any other sewing project.  Lots of sewing, lots of pressing and attention to detail in the shaping and line of the fabric will get you--a suit.  

The biggest problem with making Doll sized suits is the buttons.  It's difficult to find buttons that are a tiny 5-6 mm.  I use Barbie size buttons for the cuff trim buttons, but unless the companies making doll clothing have someone making buttons specifically for them, I haven't found anything that works that's an actual button to start with except the plastic ones I'm using now.  I'd love to be able to find brass ones.  I'm going to try using spacer beads, with another bead in the middle to make the shank. But that's up in the air right now.